Aquaculture genetics specialist Xelect has signed a partnership agreement with FirstWave Group, Africa’s largest tilapia fish producer.
The deal will create a breeding programme aimed at developing local, high-performance Nile tilapia breeds in east Africa, working with FirstWave’s operating companies Yalelo Zambia and Yalelo Uganda.
This strategic partnership, the companies say, will enable FirstWave to bring a data-driven solution to its breeding management.
FirstWave is Africa’s leading aquaculture firm, operating a vertically integrated group of companies across the production, distribution, and retail of aquafeed and fish in southern and eastern Africa.
Tembwe Mutungu, FirstWave Group Co-CEO said: “Success in leading innovation within African aquaculture requires the best ecosystem partners in addition to the best people. We are excited to partner with Xelect as they apply their global expertise and cutting-edge, data-driven tools to our local husbandry practices in Zambia and Uganda. This will allow us to breed tilapia pedigrees adapted to our local production environments, while avoiding the use of foreign genetics that present a risk to ecological balance.”
Xelect’s CEO, Prof Ian Johnston, added: “We’re delighted to be working with FirstWave as they are clearly one of the biggest names in African aquaculture. We share their passion for creating a sustainable, local source of protein, and were immediately struck by their high standards of professionalism. We’re seeing more and more producers realise the value of harnessing natural genetic variation to create the best possible fish for local conditions and believe this will become a flagship example of best practice.”
Xelect is confident that an improved data-driven breeding program will lay the foundation for precision aquaculture farming at FirstWave, enabling locally developed pedigrees of tilapia to achieve superior performance in growth, quality, and health.

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